(Katherine Fried in Arden Theatre Company’s The Snow Queen. Photo by Ashley Smith, Wide Eyed Studios.)
The Snow Queen is an iconic children’s fairy tale character and her story deserves two hours of your time. She originated in 1844 by Hans Christian Andersen and since then the ice-hearted queen and her chill have developed into many adaptations and characters in modern day theatre, movies, and fairy tales. Frozen? Yes, that’s inspired by her as well. And now, the Arden Theatre polished up the fairy tale and the story’s message for a new version that invites you to witness a magical adventure appropriate for any time of the year.
From the beginning of the show, when we meet the Snow Queen and her extraordinary ice mirror, to the very end when…well, when good stuff happens- the Arden’s theatre-in-the-round setting really puts you in the action of the show. The Queen’s beautiful, perfect mirror hovers over us and we watch as it (safely) becomes cracked. Slivers fall to the earth and enter the hearts of many people, causing them to be coarse and cold…just like the Queen.
Young Gerda (played by Eunice Akinola) lives in a wintery town where she and her pals are expected to be brick layers when they’re old enough to work. Playtime and imagination are limited and Gerda is urged, by her father, to keep away from her innocent BFF neighbor, Cei (Daniel Ison). When they get the opportunity to go sledding, though, Cei disappears with the Snow Queen and is forced to work non-stop on repairing her damaged mirror.
Gerda’s friends and family quickly accept the fact that Cei is gone forever. But Gerda won’t have it. Instead, she sets out to find Cei- much like Dorothy in Oz, complete with a pair of red shoes too- and wanders through unknown worlds to bring him back where he belongs. Gerda travels through the bright land of Spring (where she plays with a garden of friendly flowers), a hot beach in Summer (with a princess and a wedding approaching), and the crisp and colorful Fall filled with gypsies (and a dance off). Then, she’s back to Winter where she must face the Queen and do something no one has done before…
The Arden Children’s Theatre presents The Snow Queen, but this is a tale for all ages. The little ones will see a brave, young character embark on a solo journey into unfamiliar territory to save a loved one and rise up against evil. Adults will hopefully enjoy the actors portray school-aged children, having fun and playing make-believe with their peers (a reminder to not grow up too fast). The new year is approaching and The Snow Queen inspires us all to leap forward into exciting new adventures.
The Snow Queen‘s small cast of talented and versatile actors really bring the story to life. Jenna Kuerzi, Jo Vito Ramirez, and Mary Fishburne easily adapt into various roles- playful, fearful, frightening and funny. Kala Moses Baxter (a lovable, encouraging Grandmother figure at times) and Alex Bechtel (roles include a demanding father in some scenes and a timid reindeer in others), both return to the Arden stage to play along in this tale. Then there’s Katherine Fried. Like Gerda and Cei, she also traveled a distance to be with us- coming to the Arden all the way from Minnesota to be our Queen. We’re glad she’s here to help tell this story.
I didn’t bring a child with me to see The Snow Queen, but instead I watched as other children in the audience took in the whole show. I heard whispers of “where did the snow queen go?” and really loud, silly laughs. I watched a child pull a Pin Art toy from her backpack and tap a beat along with the dance-off scene. There were no cries, no screaming, no one leaving to go to the bathroom. Everyone was engrossed in the story, and rightfully so- it’s a good one to tell.
You’re probably reading this as you wind down from Christmas madness. Presents may have been opened already, guests are in town and you need to entertain them. Why not show them a bit of Philadelphia’s incredible theatre scene? Take them to The Snow Queen. Many performances take place early in the day, giving you the bonus opportunity of planning lunch or dinner with your friends and family in the city too. The weather is perfect right now and your unique adventure in the city will be as well. Tickets- through January 26th- are available here.